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Friday, May 11, 2007

Guest post by Beloved


"I have just finished regrouping baby chickies for day and night lodging.

"It has only been in the last few years that I have recovered from CHICKEN TRAUMA experienced in Gold Hill 1972. I was caretaking an 80 acre kinda farm that had recently changed hands. The place was run by 50+ white leghorn bitches and sundry killer roosters all at large. Everyday I made the rounds feeding American saddle bred horse, jersey milk cow (dry, thank goodness), various dogs and cats. The Flock of Terror followed me everywhere. I stood over each feeder, broom in hand standing guard as animals hastily choked down what they could. No place was safe. The cabin I stayed in had no window coverings. I ate breakfast swatting intruders. My early morning visits to the outhouse took courage only a full bladder can produce as countless beady eyes escorted me.

"About seven years ago we took a motley crew of runaway chickens that had taken refuge at a friend’s place. Sure, why not. We can always eat them (sorry). The raccoons beat us. Although one mama banty did raise a family. Out of five, two reached adulthood. One survived the entire flock. I named her Julia after a character in a movie with Jane Fonda and, I think, Vanessa Redgrave. It was about the Resistance. Every morning I would greet Julia. It’s a good day. If Julia can survive against the Nazi Raccoons I can survive my country’s administration. One day at a time. Over the next several years Julia befriended our turtle and one of our cats. She did not understand why cats got to come inside when she had two legs, same as the Big Folk. She did slip in a time or two skidding about on the linoleum very pleased with her self.

"Julia caused Risa a certain amount of grief over dismantling flower beds. The damage that one small chicken can do! She roosted in a Douglas fir above Gracie’s, beloved cat’s evening napping spot. When Gracie passed on, Julia began roosting on the wood pile by our front door. What a mess! Each morning I fed her. Blue jays and quail figured they were extended family.

"This fall a couple of black labs paid Julia a visit or two. On one occasion Julia crashed into the window. I held her for a couple of hours, put her in a rabbit cage, and kept her inside for a week. She survived though she sustained some neurological damage and was not able to completely hold her head up straight. This spring when I got the baby chicks I moved things around in our tiny barn. Julia was unable to find a place to roost. The poor dear was completely blind. I could see she was using her beak as a cane to tap at her surroundings. What a marvelous adapter. I moved her to an outside rabbit cage and she seemed relaxed to have a predictable environment. She also seemed to enjoy being held and taking walks with me. Julia perked up during daily visits with the baby chicks. Her last day was spent visiting with us on the grass in glorious sunshine. She appears to have died in her sleep and is buried next to Gracie.

"I have learned to love a chicken.

"Next week I will be getting 10 khaki campbell ducklings. I have raised several flocks back in the day. Risa has built a small, but totally netted, poultry run. I can let the chickens and ducks have supervised visits out in a larger area with little plastic baby swimming pools for the ducks to play in. Hopefully, we will stay ahead of the coons and hawks."

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